Friday, September 16, 2011

The Ecclesiastical Dictionary

Those of you who join me regularly in this space know that I am not a particularly religious person in the generally-accepted sense of the term (i.e., utter certainty in one's beliefs and equal certainty that everyone who believes differently deserves condemnation and will surely burn in the fires of hell for all eternity). But although I do not subscribe to any particular religious belief system, I do have an endless fascination with the subject and with the particular language that goes with religious discussions. Here's a handy guide to what some of the more common terms mean:

Baptistry: A church swimming pool designed by a finance committee with a concern for cutting costs.

Blind Faith: Obsolete phrase. The current, politically-correct term is "visually challenged faith."

Candlelight Services: A time when otherwise sensible choirs wander around in darkened churches singing with fire in their hands. Not surprisingly, this has been known to affect both the quality of music and the number of church fires.

Canon Law: An ancient arms limitation treaty.

Cassock: Short for “clergy hassock.” A robe that makes the wearer look like a small, round, overstuffed footrest.

Choir Gown: Robes worn by choir members, designed to look equally ill-fitting on everyone. Generally color-coordinated with previous church carpeting.

Evensong: A song with a meter which can be divided by two. The alternative is "unevensong," which should not be used for processionals.

Gargoyle: An extremely ugly statue on a church building. In medieval times, they were intended to scare away evil spirits. Now they are intend to attract tourists. The relationship between tourists and evil spirits has not yet been determined.

God: (n) The Supreme Being, your conception of which is the only true one.

Guilt: A sixth human sense, faithfully instilled in children by parents and in congregations by the clergy, for centuries. When functioning properly, it does not prevent people from sinning, but it prevents them from enjoying it.

Joint Services: (1) Worship conducted in a ramshackle building. (2) Worship using illicit substances, often subject to police raids. (3) Worship with another congregation or denomination. In some people's eyes, this is morally worse than #2.

Leap of Faith: Bungee jumping with a Bible.

Missionary: An annoying person who is anxious to share his or her beliefs with you, but is uninterested in hearing yours.

Organ Fund: Money being raised for a transplant. Fund is often not established until long after the organ in question is in a terminal condition.

Original Sin: A bad deed that no one else has thought of. There are few of these anymore since most bad things have already been tried. If you come up with an original sin, you should consider patenting it.

Overhead Projector: A traditional teaching aid which takes material that is clear and transparent and then ensures that it goes over everyone's head. Theologians used to take years to learn to do this.

Pall Bearer: St. Paul's mother.

Pew: An ancient device of torture, developed to make people wish they had to stand through worship, as in early centuries.

Pledge Cards: Little pieces of paper used for dusting pews. Some are called “Lemon Pledge Cards.”

Psalter: A device for sprinkling psalt on pstews, psteaks, and psandwiches.

Redeemed: What happens to coupons and Christians. Christians are rarely 50% off.

Slam Dunk: A rough baptism.

Stained Glass Windows: Colorful glass set into attractive patterns. When installed in a church, these prevent a congregation from gazing out the window during the sermon without having to close the shutters. Some feature depictions of people long dead (usually from the Bible), under which are the names of different people, who died more recently. For some reason, this never confuses as many people as it should.

Temptation: Something you want to do but know you shouldn't. See Sin. Actually, don't see Sin since sin sometimes leads to temptation. Or is it the other way around? Never mind.

Vestments: Small, white mints kept in the vest pockets of grandfathers in the church. A traditional bribe to keep children quiet during a sermon.

White Elephant Sale: A fundraiser, now defunct due to the international ban on the ivory trade.

Women's Groups: The source of all power in the church.

Hope this helps. If you have any additions to the list, put them in the comments.

It's Friday, which means that tonight is the dance party and tomorrow is ... YES! ... Cartoon Saturday. See you then.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.



Gilahi said...

Oh come on. Everybody knows that Blind Faith is seminal blues/rock group consisting of Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. They only put out one album, but they were hugely influential.

Wv - eperspit: 1) A long metal rod on which to roast an eper. 2) The saliva of an eper.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I like your idea of the leap of faith

Mike said...

I gotta start getting up before Gilahi. ..... Naaaaaa

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I was going to say the same thing about Blind Faith.

The Mistress of the Dark said...


Amanda said...

I was just staring at some Stained Glass Windows last week and wondering about those names underneath. Also the pews....and a statue.